An intrathecal pump can be used to relieve chronic back pain that is caused from conditions such as spinal cord injury, failed back surgery, complex regional pain syndrome, and more. Patients who regularly take oral pain medications may be candidates for an intrathecal pump. Trial injections can be used first to make sure that this method is helpful.
An intrathecal pump is a method of direct pain medication. It delivers pain medication, like morphine, right to the area that needs it the most. Unlike oral medication, which needs to be diffused in the entire body, an intrathecal pump sends medication to one spot. This means that less medication is needed to achieve the same level of relief.
The pump itself is round and metal. It is surgically implanted in your abdominal area, under your skin. A catheter runs from the pump to the fluid around the spinal cord. It is programmed to release a certain amount of pain medication over time during the day. It can even be programmed to give extra medication during certain times. Your doctor refills the pump with a needle inserted into the top of the device’s port.
You might experience discomfort due to the implantation itself, but that goes away after a few days. Bending and heavy lifting should be avoided for about four weeks. Your doctor can give you specific instructions about what you can expect after having an intrathecal pump placed. Many patients experience results with an intrathecal pump and find it easy to schedule their refills on a regular basis.